Emotional response to personal story of violence during symposium
October 4, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, VA (Oct. 4)--There weren't many dry eyes at the Army Community Service building Tuesday, following the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Resource Symposium.
The symposium, hosted by the ACS Family Advocacy Program, featured the heart-wrenching, personal remarks of Amanda Tenorio, a domestic violence survivor and the victim advocate for Fort Myer, as well as remarks by the Fort Belvoir garrison commander.
Between 40 and 50 community members attended the event to pick up information on domestic violence and hear from the guest speakers.
Reon Brogan, Fort Belvoir victim advocate, thanked the crowd for coming.
"Your presence alone makes a statement, and that is a statement that we all can stand behind -- and that is, we will not turn our back on domestic violence," she said, tying this month's theme: Don't Turn Your Back on Domestic Violence.
"Just being here today, we -- each of us -- are responsible in some sense, where we can be that one person that can make the difference in another person's life," she said.
She introduced Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Gregory Gadson and Command Sgt. Maj. Chester Grelock, who showed their support at the event by signing Fort Belvoir's Domestic Violence Proclamation.
Gadson also spoke on the responsibility everyone has to take action against abuse.
"What I've come to really kind of recognize is that it really takes a lot of courage to address problems. It's about leaders and other people stepping up and not ignoring the signs that they see, not rationalizing what they see, but taking the extra steps to find out if people need help," he said.
"It's ultimately about taking care of people," Gadson added. "If you're going to treat your spouse or your Family poorly, then how can I expect you to treat the servicemembers that you're supposed to be taking care of?"
Then, Brogan introduced Tenorio, who told the story of her relationship with her abusive ex-boyfriend, who beat her so badly that he put her into a coma, and another time, sent her to the hospital with eight broken ribs, 10 broken fingers, dislocated knees and ankles and a split over her eye.
"That's when I told him, 'This is over,'" she said. "I'm not protecting him anymore, I'm not sticking up for him anymore."
Tenorio is now a motivational speaker, and hopes those who hear her story will reach out to others in the same scenario.
"My goal is just to inspire other victims or people in the community who know somebody that's a victim, to try and help them get out of the situation that I was in," she said.
She also pointed out that abuse happens in military communities as well as in the civilian world.
"My abuser grew up in the military. His father is still in the military and at the time that this all happened, his father was here on Fort Belvoir," she said. "So, it does happen in the military, and I know for a fact that he learned this behavior."
By the time Tenorio finished her story, many guests were wiping their eyes.
Master Sgt. Tamika Wynn, Fort Belvoir's new Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program manager, found the speech inspiring.
"It was very touching," she said. "I don't know how she did it -- went through that for such a long period of time. It just made me more aware that (domestic violence is) really out there within the military, and out in the civilian sector."
Carey Williams, who works in the Fort Belvoir Equal Employment Opportunity Office, was inspired by the command group's show of support.
"The tone was set by the garrison commander and the sergeant major by signing the proclamation," he said. "Taking the stance from the leadership -- from the top -- shows the importance of domestic violence (prevention) within the community."
At the end of the event, Brogan encouraged all of the guests to take action against any domestic violence they become aware of.
"They say we retain 30 percent of what we see, 50 percent of what we say or hear, and 90 percent of what we do," she said. "Today we have seen, we have heard; it is now time to do."